Ambitious Introverts: Hiding in the Bathroom — Episode #005 With Morra Aarons-Mele

by Oct 9, 2017Podcast, Small Business

Why do we only show outgoing, extroverted, and confident business people as the model for success?

In a world where most successful entrepreneurs and business owners are afraid to show any weakness, Morra Aarons-Mele is a breath of fresh air. The author of Hiding in the Bathroom: An Introvert’s Roadmap to Getting Out There (When You’d Rather Stay Home), Morra admits that we’re all just faking it, as she explores how to harness the power of your “only-ness” and make the work environment work for you.

By the time Morra turned 30, she had quit nine different digital marketing jobs.

Assuming the work itself was making her unhappy, she applied to graduate school to purse social work and began freelancing to finance her education. Much to Morra’s surprise, she found herself working harder than ever and truly enjoying the job. It wasn’t the work itself that had her crying in the bathroom, it was how she had to do it. As an extreme introvert, the flexibility of freelancing afforded her the opportunity to do her best work.

Today, Morra shares her approach to working from home, explaining what her ideal work week looks like and how she maintains a connection with peers.

She addresses her ambition to speak up for people who don’t normally have a voice, her struggle with antenatal depression, and her ongoing quest for balance between professional satisfaction and quality time with family. I ask her about the challenges that come with being a ‘hermit entrepreneur’ and how her parenting journey aligns with the evolution of her business. Listen and learn how to sell as yourself and navigate the professional world as an ambitious introvert.

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Anchor, SpotifyStitcherCastboxGoogle Podcasts, PocketCasts, Overcast, or on your favorite podcast platform.

Hustling as an Introvert — Hiding at Home

The Startup Parent Podcast — Episode #005

Quotes from the episode:

  • I have had this evolution … in which I realized that I need to work in a very specific way in order to—not just be happy—but do the best work I possibly can.
  • I quit nine jobs before I was 30. I was talented and ambitious and smart and lucky. I kept getting great jobs, and I kept leaving them.
  • I became a freelance consultant… and this amazing thing happened: I loved my work. I couldn’t wait to do it … but I did it on my own terms.
  • You really have to be motivated and disciplined to break the cycle [on a low day], and get the hell to work.
  • If you literally don’t sit with peers and mentors all day, how do you cultivate that community? Where do you go when you have a tough question, or when you even just want to get someone’s opinion on something? You have to build in those systems.
  • For me as a hermit entrepreneur, I’m nothing without people on the outside, so I have to keep that [network] growing, plus I like it. It’s meaningful.
  • There are so many of us who feel that we don’t fit in temperamentally into the model of success we were all raised with … which is—let’s face it—an Alpha, white, straight man talking.
  • My daily life is a negotiation between the piece of me that wants to hide and stay in bed … and the piece of me that wants to get out there and kick butt.
  • I want to hear other leader’s stories because we’re all faking it, let’s face it. Everyone’s insecure … but we can’t talk about that.
  • Even though I have social anxiety, I do feel like I can give a speech or pitch with the best of them because I’ve put in the training and the work.
  • It’s this interesting mix of finding role models, but also understanding your true value, your onlyness … and how you can make that in a way that people say, ‘Man, I need this person in my life.’
  • That’s been my quest: How can I pay the bills and get enough professional satisfaction, while trying to spend as much time as possible with the kids?
  • Working moms are the most efficient people in the world.
  • I’m in this phase where I don’t know what’s going to happen … It’s scary, but it’s also really interesting: ‘What will happen if you achieve your dream?’

About Morra Aarons-Mele:

Morra Aarons-Mele is the founder of Women Online, an award-winning social impact agency, and the author of Hiding in the Bathroom: An Introvert’s Roadmap to Getting Out There (When You’d Rather Stay Home). A prominent figure in the world of digital marketing, Morra has been working online since 1999, launching campaigns for the likes of the United Nations, the Malala Fund, Hillary Clinton for President, President Obama, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. She has written for a number of well-known publications including The Harvard Business Review, The Huffington Post, The New York Times and The Guardian, and taught at the Yale Women’s Campaign School, the Harvard Kennedy School, and the Johns Hopkins Graduate School of Communication.


Sponsor: HippoGive

[Update 12/2020] Sadly, HippoGive is no longer around. The originally published text is left below to honor their work.

Thank you to the sponsor of this episode: HippoGive! HippoGive is a new app that donates your change by rounding up your everyday transactions to the nearest dollar and gives it to the charities and non-profits of your choosing.

If you’ve been wanting to donate to Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, or disaster relief you can use this app and it’s a piece of cake. All you need to do is create an account, choose your charity and then set a weekly donation cap. Head to to sign up.

Also, for every user that signs up through the Startup Parent podcast, they’re going to match your first one-time donation AND send you a $5 amazon gift card. Use the promo code PREGNANT to go help people and get yourself a $5 amazon gift card. Thanks, HippoGive!


We're a weekly show that releases new episodes most Mondays at 5:30 A.M. Find us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, or whenever you listen to podcasts. If you'd like to get new episodes delivered to you by email, sign up for the weekly newsletter with insights, strategies, and new ideas for working parents. If you'd like to sponsor the podcast, feel free to reach out.  Lastly, if you like what you hear definitely leave us a review on iTunes. 


"Startup Parent's take on motherhood, work, and rejecting hustle culture is everything I need in my life right now."

"One of the only newsletters I always read."

"If I hear one more meaningless "productivity tip" I might scream. Your newsletter is always refreshing and honest."


Our private Startup Parent Facebook Community is for working moms navigating all things parenting, business, career, and children. We also have a brand-new Linked In Parenting Group for folks of all genders to join and share resources on parenting and business. Join us in one or both groups.


Every year, we gather a group of women together to talk about pregnancy, parenting, marriage, partnership, work, business, children, and all the things that come up during this challenging season of life. Applications are now open. 



If you’re a fan of this podcast, you’ll love the private, ask-me-anything conversations with Sarah. When you become a Patreon backer, you'll get a brand-new episode every single month. Click here to become a back and get immediate access to the episodes.


How Brands Mess Up Marketing To Women — Episode #183 with Amber Anderson

How Brands Mess Up Marketing To Women — Episode #183 with Amber Anderson

Creative dynamo Amber Anderson is the founder of Tote & Pears, a branding and marketing agency with a female focus. For her, becoming an entrepreneur was about more than the business. It was about creating possibilities for her family, establishing a set of core values for her family, and aligning her business values and family needs holistically. We first interviewed Amber on Episode #029 all about the birth of her son and her business. We invite her back to talk about what marketing to women looks like, how brands and agencies can better understand their target audience, and how to build a business that works for you and your family. Tune in to this episode to hear returning guest Amber describe how she aligns family values with work values, the rebranding of her marketing to become female-focused, and why she is committed to keeping work and home life intertwined (while keeping her work weeks around 40-50 hours).

read more
Is The Pandemic Messing Up Our Kids? — Episode #182 with Dr. Courtney Bolton

Is The Pandemic Messing Up Our Kids? — Episode #182 with Dr. Courtney Bolton

How badly is this year, this pandemic, messing up our kids and us, as parents? After more than a year of living through social distancing, virtual school and blended schools, and highly restricted business activities, parents and children are suffering tremendously. We still don’t know what the long-term damage looks like, so I reached out to a parenting and children’s psychologist, Dr. Courtney Bolton, to ask her about how parents and kids will fare through all of this. Here’s what a psychologist says about the well being of parents and children in a pandemic, and how to help them (and yourself) through it.

read more
Raising Them: Gender Creative Parenting — Episode #174 with Dr. Kyl Myers

Raising Them: Gender Creative Parenting — Episode #174 with Dr. Kyl Myers

Dr. Kyl Myers holds a PhD in sociology and gender studies, and is an award-winning educator and a globally recognized advocate for gender creative parenting. Since 2016, Kyl has been speaking and writing about gender creative parenting and using their own parenting story to help the world learn about and embrace a new type of childhood. Dr. Myers is the author of Raising Them: Our Adventure In Gender Creative Parenting. Join us for a fascinating conversation about parenting, gender, and what we can do as parents to help reduce gender violence, oppression against women and men, and create a more playful world.

read more
Consistency, Batching, and Productivity: Why I Take An August Sabbatical

Consistency, Batching, and Productivity: Why I Take An August Sabbatical

A few years ago, when we first had children, my husband talked to his workplace about parental leave. He knew that while he’d like to be home during the first few weeks during and after the birth, he was also interested in being able to be around with his kids while they grew up. So, the summer after our first kid was born, he shifted his schedule to work from 8am to 4pm. From there, he advocated for taking a four-week leave every summer to spend time with his kids. We’re not taking a full sabbatical this year because of the pandemic, but we will still push pause on a few things where we can.

read more

Sarah K Peck

Founder, Startup Parent

Sarah Peck is a writer, startup advisor, and yoga teacher based in New York City. She’s the founder and executive director of Startup Parent, a media company documenting the stories of women’s leadership across work and family. She hosts the weekly Startup Parent Podcast and Let's Talk, her second podcast. Previously, she worked at Y Combinator backed One Month, Inc, a company that teaches people to code in 30 days, and before that she was a writing and communications consultant.

She’s a 20-time All-American swimmer who successfully swam the Escape from Alcatraz nine separate times, once wearing only a swim cap and goggles to raise $33k for charity: water. She’s written for more than 75 different web publications and and has delivered speeches and workshops at Penn, UVA, Berkeley, Harvard, Craft & Commerce, WDS, and more.